Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Chancellor Ronald L. Elsenbaumer unveiled the new Purdue Fort Wayne athletics logo at Hilliard Gates Sports Center on June 18.
Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette IPFW guard John Konchar looks for an opening in the first half against Oral Roberts Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum.
Sunday, July 01, 2018 1:00 am
State of PFW Athletics
Forward in black and gold
Jerseys change, but Gates Center stays blue for now
AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette
IPFW year in review
Baseball: 11-37, 7-23 Summit League
Basketball: 18-15, 7-7 SL; SL Tournament first round; CIT first round
Cross country: 4th in Summit League; 23rd Great Lakes Regional
Golf: 5th in Summit League, Zach Schroeder medalist; T-64th at NCAA Regional
Soccer: 5-9-4, 0-4-1 SL
Volleyball: 18-11, 6-8 MIVA; first round MIVA Tournament
Basketball: 4-24, 1-13 SL; first round SL Tournament
Cross country: 5th in SL, Emma Rafuse second; 27th in Great Lakes Regional
Golf: 8th in SL
Soccer: 1-17; 0-7 SL
Softball: 19-35, 3-11 SL; First SL tournament win since 2014
Track: 7th in SL
Volleyball: 12-19, 4-10 SL; First round SL tournament
The name on the front and the colors of the jerseys for the athletes are the only major changes for Purdue Fort Wayne with the name change officially going into effect today. The new athletics logo, unveiled in a ceremony on June 18, keeps the history of the athletics program alive with the incorporation of blue outlining the familiar Mastodon mascot.
This fall, the athletes will be decked out in black and gold with the new logo and color scheme already on the floor in the Gates Center but some things will remain the same for the time being.
The seats, curtain and scoreboards in the Gates Center remain blue as well as the track in the fieldhouse. Those and other blue items will be replaced in due time.
“That's going to be a much longer timeline,” university chancellor Ron Elsenbaumer said at the logo unveiling. “We are not looking at making radical changes right off the bat. We will be living with blue seats and some blue appointments in this room for quite some time. As we get funds over time, we'll gradually make those changes. Right now, what's really important to us is the branding part of this, the visual that goes outside of the university that represents what we have to do on our uniforms.”
The success continued in the 2017-18 season, the school's last as IPFW, with the first men's golf NCAA Regional qualifier when Zach Schroeder won the Summit League and the men's basketball program recording another win against Indiana, this time at Assembly Hall, along with a game at Kentucky in Rupp Arena.
“I'm really proud of just the continued evolution of our program,” men's basketball coach Jon Coffman said. “I'm so proud of marquee wins; Indiana on the road, this gets highlighted. There's been so much more than that. It's great that it draws national attention. Going on the road and winning like that.
“There's so much more success and the fact that we've continued – six years of averaging 20-plus wins and a fifth straight tournament bid (CollegeInsider.com Tournament). Every year, we've moved one or two all-league players to play in the pro ranks.”
Coffman said 2018 graduates Bryson Scott, Xzavier Taylor and Jordon King are expected to sign professional contracts, which brings the number of pros from the program to 15 in the last seven years.
Two assistants in the program also advanced their careers with Ben Botts returning to his native Muncie as an assistant at Ball State, and John Peckinpaugh as the new head coach of Division II Wheeling Jesuit in West Virginia.
“I'm proud of our staff. I was blessed this year with a phenomenal staff,” Coffman said. “What the players have been able to do on the floor, that's given staff members great opportunities. Ben was able to advance his career that fit in with his dreams.
“People keep calling my assistants to look at them. Our players have done good on the floor but I have a great staff that's really great at supporting them.”
For other programs like softball (third straight year with more wins than the previous season), track and field, women's basketball and men's volleyball, the programs continue to improve and evolve with additional personnel on the coaching side.
Coach Ashley Botham took over track and cross country teams in January and is in the midst of adjusting the culture of the program. The women's team had school records with the 400-meter relay (47.79 seconds), Olivia Coleman in the 200 (25.04), Lexi O'Connell in the 100 hurdles (14.56) and Emma Rafuse in the 5,000 (16:46.97).
Women's basketball coach Niecee Nelson finished her second season and the success may not have always shown up in wins and loss.
“It was laying the building blocks,” she said. “We were the fourth youngest team in the country which means a lot of new teaching. Coming into a conference like this, the players got a lot of experience and realized by the end of the season what they had to work on and a lot of that was just the basic strength that comes with that maturity.”
Rock Perrotte finished his third season coaching the men's volleyball program, which saw a huge leap from the previous year thanks to what it was able to do systematically, growth in maturity and health.
“Tony Price was healthy all year. Pelegrin Vargas was healthy,” Perrotte said, “We had some stumbles Richie Dietrich and Tomas Gago, but we were able to get through those and you put those three things together. It was a really nice year for us, and we made a great leap. Going forward into Year 4 under my tutelage, we have everybody back except Jack Carlson.
“Last year's results are now this year's expectations. I have to hold our team to that standard and the fact that we have everybody back and we have a talented group of young men that can challenge for the MIVA conference (title).”
Perrotte's concern with the transition to Purdue Fort Wayne is the national reputation built by former coach Arnie Ball.
“Since 1981, almost 40 years, the name IPFW was synonymous with collegiate men's volleyball,” Perrotte said. “It becomes a little bit different for recruiting purposes. It's now Purdue Fort Wayne. That is a change.
“No. 2, of course, the impact overall. I don't know where people stand on it in terms of the alumni connection and associations with our program. A lot of individuals in the past put in a lot of hard work, the blood, the sweat, the tears, the miles, to get the program under Coach Ball where it was. I'm an alum and it's one of those things. Change is always hard. We've gone through this before I think it impacts on those two scales.”